Some families are seeing up to 30% of their energy bills “go right out the window” due to a lack of insulation, Citizens Advice has warned.
The advisory service said that despite the recently announced bill freeze, many families will continue to struggle with high energy bills and cold, damp homes due to a lack of investment in basic cost-saving measures such as insulation.
The government’s energy price freeze means the average bill will be £2,500 a year from October 1st.
However, Citizens Advice said more than a million people living in houses with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of F face an average bill of more than £3,000.
In addition, drafty and inefficient homes mean they lose £950 worth of the heat they pay for through the walls, windows and roof, it warned.
It has been calculated that households would save a total of £8.1 billion a year if all homes had an EPC rating of C.
At present the majority of houses in England and Wales are below this standard, with a significant proportion being pre-war buildings.
There are also regional variations, with people living in Wales, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber facing the highest costs, Citizens Advice said.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of homes in these areas have EPC ratings below Band C.
Households in London and the South East are most likely to be in a better position, but more than 50% of homes in these regions still have poor EPC ratings.
Almost half (44%) of homeowners are actively considering improving their homes, but cost was cited as the top reason by those who don’t.
Rich Jones, Energy Projects Manager at Citizens Advice Brighton and Hove said: “Most of the people we advise are disabled or have long-term health conditions. One person we spoke to relies on their son to hand wash their laundry to save on electricity.
“She says she’s cold all the time. Several parents have told us that their children’s bedrooms are so humid that they have given them their room and are now sleeping on the sofa or the floor instead.
“Grants, budgeting and performance reviews can only provide short-term relief. But improving their homes would make a big difference.”
Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The government’s bill freeze puts an emergency halt on staggering price increases. Now we need an exit strategy from this energy crisis.
“Bills are through the roof – literally for people in cold and drafty houses where heat escapes when they turn up the thermostat. That burns through many people’s tight budgets.
“Insulating our homes is the long-term solution that will lower our bills and reduce our reliance on gas. The government needs to make it a top priority.”